Your child has had ‘the talk’ about careers at school, meaning it’s time to start making some big decisions — some that will affect their path for the next couple of years. Your role on this journey is to assist with self-exploration and discussion around their skills and interests, as well as looking at the breath of occupations and the path they’ll take to get there.
Stage 1: Who is your child?
Self-exploration is your child’s first step in their career, helping them discover who they are and how that might affect the path they take. Why not try some of the following?
- Visit the school career adviser: Encourage a visit to the career adviser as the first step in career exploration. Your child might already have an idea of the jobs available but it’s likely they’ll have questions about their options, as well as what jobs may actually entail. Are they suited to working outdoors? Do they want to work with people? Further, how will their skills and interests be used in the workplace? This will help to establish their preferences.
- Review the last couple of school reports: Together with teacher feedback, your child’s academic results will paint a picture of their strengths and weaknesses. If they are achieving top marks for mathematics and science, but struggling with history and languages, humanities may not be the right route. Of course, these areas are still worth exploring if they are of interest to your child.
- Complete a self-awareness activity: Start by dividing two pieces of paper into three columns: strengths, weaknesses and achievements. It works best if you and your child create separate lists, as you may be able to point out what they haven’t noticed. Strengths include their aptitudes, such as skills in mathematics or being able to build long-lasting friendships, while weaknesses are the tasks and activities that don’t come naturally, such as being organised. Their achievements include the various successes they’ve had in life, including at home, school, their part-time job and extracurricular pursuits.
Stage 2: Which type of work is best suited to your child’s skills and interests?
Is your child creative, good with practical tasks or highly analytical? Once they have considered their skills and interests, delving into the ‘types of work’ can help to narrow down potential occupational fields. The broad types of work include:
- Analytic or Scientific (seeking solutions to scientific, technical, social or other issues)
- Creative or Artistic (expressing, presenting or performing ideas in a creative way)
- Helping or Advising (helping, informing, teaching and treating people)
- Practical or Mechanical (making, installing, fixing and adjusting things)
- Nature or Recreation (working with the natural world or providing services in sport and recreation)
- Organising or Clerical (using data to order, process or retrieve facts and figures, or developing or administering processes and services)
- Persuading or Service (influencing, motivating, selling to and negotiating with people, as well as serving them).
Remember that your child may identify with more than one of these categories. If they love working with people but also have a way with numbers, rest assured there are plenty of occupations suited to their abilities and interests.
Stage 3: What are your child’s occupation options?
Now’s the time for your child to shortlist possible occupations. The occupation profiles in The Good Careers Guide provide a comprehensive overview of each job, including the personal attributes required, tasks completed, training pathways and employment opportunities.
As they review occupation profiles they might find that their shortlist grows… or dwindles to just a couple of options. If they have several occupations to review further, they’ve done a great job. For those with only a handful that took their fancy, a more realistic look at the profiles can help. Were they too hard on some elements? Did they read the profile carefully? Perhaps they focused too closely on the education and training, rather than the tasks they would complete on the job.
Stage 4: What training does child need to get started on their career path?
Once your child has finalised a shortlist of potential career pathways, it’s time to start thinking about their training options. This might include studying at university level, either at a university or private higher education provider; in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, which includes Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and private colleges; or through an apprenticeship or traineeship. For others, an occupation might require on-the-job training or a short course.
Your child will have access to a range of resources, including their school career adviser and training information under each occupation in The Good Careers Guide and The Good Universities Guide. This includes looking at subject prerequisites, as they will need to choose the correct studies for Year 11 and 12. Entry to most bachelor degrees requires students to have completed English in Year 12, although some courses (such as medicine) have additional prerequisites, including maths and science. Portfolios, auditions and interviews are common in performance-based and creative disciplines. In most higher education courses, their ATAR or OP plays a big role in entry.
As you navigate this process with your child, remember that there are many paths to the same destination. If they have their heart set on a particular course or occupation, it’s not out of reach if they aren’t able to meet the entry requirements. If they can’t gain entry to the required degree, why not start out in the VET sector or with a foundation course?
Stage 5: Have they evaluated their options and conducted further research?
Choosing an occupation doesn’t happen overnight (and it certainly doesn’t mean remaining in it for life!). Before your child decides that they’ve found the right fit, they should conduct further research. This means speaking to industry directly, attending open days and chatting to family or friends in related jobs. There are many resources out there — it’s up to them to actively research their options.